tv [untitled] May 20, 2012 2:30pm-3:00pm EDT
up and down the rivers. that is where you're likely to find the corn growing soil and also the flatter soil that you want if you're going to have a soil, it's less likely to erode. indian could be picky. the women had apparently have very definite ideas about what would make a good corn crop. so do modern scientists. funny thing, and do they correlate? well, i checked with a scientist. i actually did want to talk to the soil scientist, but i went into soil map county by county, had done it for delaware, coastal plain of maryland, virginia, and north carolina, just out of curiosity, and i didn't just do it on general soil types which my colleague randy turner did in his dissertation and found it correlates. i found sometimes very specific soils, number 298, this is not in color, but 298 down by the
word perten bay, is one particular kind of soil, the best that's available locally, and that's where palatan lived. i promised i wouldn't mention individuals. you can actually pin it down by specific soil type. in this case, i think i remember it is state sandy loams, farther up, it is fantastic and the state soil now. this is what the indian women found. we know where they were doing their farming. thanks to schmidt. and if you take river valleys and then correlate them with kinds of soil, that's the river bingo. look how many of the towns are by the soils. about an 80% correlation to the river. it correlates.
i waited ten years to find that out. it was worth it. yep. good stuff. and the indian women knew it first. of course, they had 600 years of trial and error. and 600 years is quite enough for experimenting. but it worked. it worked. now, at our latitude, on our coastal plain, and certainly in the piedmont and the valley province, we tend to have mixed deciduous hardwood forest. we don't tend to go to pine barrens. i understand the extent of pine barrens in virginia is in dispute. and i haven't even looked into those. but the vast majority of parts of virginia at least were predominantly hardwood forests mixed in with pine. i attended a seminar at the university of georgia for a summer with archeologists back in '89 and found that they were thinking entirely differently from me. i grew up, well, i'm in coastal
virginia, of course, and the good people who live in the coastal plain, and the poor folks got to piedmont, you know that kind of attitude, don't you? whether you give it or receive it. it's the opposite from carolina on around through georgia, alabama, and into mississippi. it's the opposite for the indians. at least. because where you have so many pine forests, it is less productive of food like nuts that deer and other critters love so much. there was less good hunting. the soils were more poorly drained, it can be flat and that could be bad for farming, and the mound builders, the mississippian complex, these were piedmont and mountain people. i heard that down in georgia, and i went into culture shock. i said a bunch of foreigners.
but where we are, you have thick, deciduous forest. oftentimes it comes smack down to near the chesapeake bay, within a mile or so of it. i have driven all over these peninsulas. it's good hunting territory because it's good deer producing territory. all through the necks until you get right close down to the saltwater area, and of course, i live in the saltwater area and it's cruddy. but it's great. it's also rich in plant foods if your domesticates tend to come from vessel america instead of here and the rainfall in mexico city, where i also lived for a summer, is quite different from here. it was wet all summer long. may be semi desert, but it was scattered out. that's not the case here. we have a bad summer about one in three summers. and sometimes they clump up. so you want a lot of wild plants. wild plants.
when i started messing with wild plants, reading botanical manuals and pestering botanists, there were about 1100 native wild species in the coastal plain of virginia. almost as many in the piedmont, that people could get edible parts from if they were willing to do that much work. you can narrow it down to about 100 requiring only a moderate amount of work, and you can live quite well. the major ones i'm showing are in -- i don't know if you can read it at this distance. it's a real busy picture, but i put that in a book where i knew people were going to have to use a magnifying glass anyway. the deciduous forest, things you can get in there all year long and also seasonal ones. whenever the nutting season, this is also a major hunting season. you hunt the animals that eat the nuts and you eat the nuts
instead. it's quite simple. there are all kinds of things. most of the medicinal stuff i could be sure they used were also from the deciduous forest, but that's because i had to get my more recent indian information from the coastal sources. lots of stuff you can get in the deciduous forest. you could also on the lower terrace if you're not raising corn and beans, if you're letting it go fallow, it produces all kinds of youthful things. that's where you get the plants to make cordage. you can't go to walmart and buy string. you make your own, and you go to last year's fields where the plant produces it. mainly milk weed, common milk weed and indian hemp. then, an area we don't usually think of as being useful, but it
was essential to the indians is the freshwater marsh. i'm showing you the plant there on the marsh. there are other things also, if you're really hungry, you eat marsh periwinkle and get protein, also a lot of shell, but you expel that out the other end. and then of course the waterways themselves with all sorts of wild fowl, fish, et cetera, and the more freshwater marsh you have and the more estuaries you have, the better you are. that's why the rich folks were in the coastal plains. they were able to get lots of stuff from the land and also lots of stuff from the water. all eco zones got huge. oh, go back a minute to the business of the plants. these are some of the plants and they're only some of the plants that are useful with a bit less work. but you have to memorize what they look like in various seasons as the women and the
girls traveled about. you're always looking at where things are. i watched for indian hemp plants myself. they grow on the farm where i live, and i'm always watching to see where they are this year, where they might be next year. you also want to know when is the best time to go get them. i'm learning the wrong way about indian hemp. you want to get it during the hurricane season. the latter part of the hurricane season is best. learn where they grow, learn the season to use them in, and then how you actually prepare them is something else you've got to do. i'm no good at making string yet, but string valleys made up tribal territories for the obvious reasons. everything in the valley including the marshes were useful. in a marsh like this, this is part of jamestown island. it's not a fully freshwater marsh. it has a little too much salt in it, but look at the reeds. if you're going to use reeds to make mats and mats to make houses, you're going to wind up
going into the marshes, mucky though it is. so you want all sorts of things. all eco zones got used for something. the eco zone with the least use, ironically back then, was beaches. you can't get food on them. but you can put off a canoe from them if you have to, and it's usually around beaches or even little pocket beaches that you start your fence out, your hedging, to make a fish trap in the estuary. but marshes are useful. english didn't understand this. ironically in parts of england, they were and still do raise exactly that species, fragmitis cuminus. but the settlers who came over here was thinking, we can't sell these. definitely swamps, swamps were extremely useful.
the english were going to call them deserts. to the indians, this is where you might find a bread basket. there are higher grounds that will have trees, including oaks that will make acorns which will attract some deer, and in the waters themselves, you can see a turtle in there. i think it's a marsh plant, but i'm going to call it a turtle. this is if you want to eat terrapin for supper, you go to the swamp. this is a reason why swamps became refuge areas for indians. there's also high enough grounds for hammocks where you can clear trees and do farming. it's while indian refugee communities ended up there after the whites had taken all of their waterfront land. you go to a swamp. and whitey is not going to want the swamp. until he learns to drain it, you're safe. parting shots. parting shots.
this kind of use of all ecological zones largely from necessity, aided by great ingenuity and great memories, no ipods, no computers to help. this kind of thing meant certain things for indian life which the english very, very often misunderstood. all mothers were working mothers. they all had to go out of the town to get the stuff they were supposed to come back and process. daddy did not gather reeds in the marshes. daddy did not dig tucaho. he had other things he was supposed to be doing. the women and girls were coming and going all the time. and the house building was apparently women's work. the saplings had to be gotten. you had to get the right species of tree. ironwood is one of the best. and you have to go out and get a lot of them. you're going to be in the woods quite a while, and as for the
reeds for the mats and cordage to tie it all together, that's self-explanatory, and the women would have to go in the marshes for them. by canoe. canoes weren't toys for older boys. both sexes had to use canoes. they were the family station wagons and u-haul trucks. both sexes had to know how to use them, and using one wasn't something you always had to do with other people because things were so heavy. dugout, log dugout canoes were used all through virginia, up in the mountains, too. and it took at least four people to move a good sized one if it was one that was something like 50 people long, you wanted at least eight people paddling. i have done a small canoe with only two, and it was murder. absolutely murder. also the waterways which became the highways for indians, would remain the highways for the
invaders from the old world who were all accustomed to using boats as well. and that obtained until a lot of the country roads were paved in the 1930s. so that was a matter of continuity of attitude. but as for how you used eco zones, i need to stick to the subject. another thing it meant was that the two sexes didn't look alike. the men on the average were taller than the women by about four inches. average indian height in prehistoric times seemed to have been about 5'7", 5'3" for english. the women averaged about 5'2", but they were probably built like piano movers. digging tucaho will make you that way. that's a very mild form, as we found out later, of the way you dig tucaho. if you're going to dig enough to feed a family, you're going to sit down at the plant with several other people, multiple
people, and pry at the thing with pry bars and you're going to get filthy. this is just after a tucaho digging expedition. you can see the tubers in the bucket there. i never found a woman who was willing to undertake it. i didn't for long. i pleaded increasing old age and found some grunts. and they said they hurt for a long time there after. okay. very hard work. women's work. yeah. women would be built like piano movers. the men, i told a lecture that, the men who did so much literal running. you don't often down a deer with if thirst arrow. if you're going to war or more effectively coming back with somebody trailing you, you're going to be running. the men tended to be built like cross country runners. they were not built like gym rats or football players or weight lifters.
they had to do a lot of long distance endurance running. because of tucaho, this is what the inside of a tuber looks like. because eric's hands were so roughened from use, he was the head honcho in the indian village in jamestown settlement, he didn't feel it at all. when i touched that thing, any part of it, my hands burned, terrible stuff. takes a lot of processing, but the thing is, you're able to get it year round. and you memorize where it is when the leafs are up. you can spot where it has been even during the winter time. this is the tucaho in halfway creek. i took it illegally from the colonial parkway bridge without getting caught. in the winter. anything for science. but there's all kinds of riches of food down there if you know how to prepare the tubers once you get them.
that meant in turn that anybody with this kind of resources in the bread basket marshes was going to be impossible to starve out. so when i read accounts from 1622 that the colonists were starving and so were the indians, i don't believe that last part. they could still gather tucaho and live very nicely, thank you, and when spring came, the english better look out. because of that, also, and their knowledge of how to use swamps and the upper parts of rivers that the english mainly did not want. you can get quite a lot of survival of indian descendant communities. it shows up, that's the maryland eastern shore, which is why i used this map. i haven't worked it out fully in virginia to my own satisfaction because a lot of the people would no longer bear tribal names and there are enclaves all over eastern virginia. you can see where the reservations were allowed by maryland to survive.
the people were surviving and they were still mostly waterfront. quite a few of them were living well up those rivers and they had access not so much to meandering rivers but to swamps. especially the reservation, 1678 to post 1746. you have to be able to live in the swamp to survive there. there's not much tucaho even now. i have checked with a guy who has canoed all over it and he knows his plants. you have to live in a swamp. and they did for a long time. some of their descendants are not far away. i have been in e-mail communication with one of them within the past week. so you get a lot of people surviving, more than we usually realize. where the people get to choose the place for their reservation as the pamunkeys did. you can figure out why they did it for ecological reasons.
osamkateck, right in the middle, the modern day pamunkey reservation. it's never been owned by anybody but indians. they chose what land to keep. why did they choose it? maybe because it was farrell fairly easily defensible. look at the wonderful red stars just across the river. they were still going after the stuff in bread basket marshes. if the corn crop failed, these local, king williams, whites and blacks, might be doing real poorly next winter. the indians would still be doing just fine, thank you. therefore, you can expect that there will be plenty of indians still. the refuge areas they were able to go to and they used resources that the white competition didn't want, enabled them to change their culture at a slow
pace. it didn't mean it wasn't painful. we are all living through that now. they were able to adopt and to adapt and survive, and they're still here. thank you. >> any questions? pertinent or im? >> here we go. >> what was -- what was the food preparation with that stuff? were they making it into a bread? was it a big mush? what was it? >> they did both. yeah. they did both. it makes only a moderately good flour. my chef friend who was the dirty one on the left side found that even with a cuisinart he
couldn't get it into smooth flour, but you can get it into a mush. what's recorded is they made it into bread. by the way, i don't know whether it's going to be book number nine or number ten for me. i am co-authoring a book with my sister who is a nutritionist, recently retired, and we are going to reconstruct the palentan diet and the nutritional aspects of it, including what various types of preparation would have done. yeah. we've just finished a five-week course on it for the senior citizens lifetime learning at cnu. and she is collecting what she wants to boil down. i'm ready to write. [ laughter ] >> i usually am. >> in your studies around 1600, were you ever able to make an estimate of how many native peoples there were in virginia? >> estimate, yes.
an estimate, i have a lot of faith in, no. nobody -- i mean nobody, including on the other side of the pond, was taking censuses of people at that point in time. it wasn't considered government's business. so all we have of the indians is john smith's warrior accounts, as they're called. he and his superiors wanted to know how about able-bodied males would be able to shoot at them if they came visiting. and that's not much to make an estimate from. but the best we can do without estimates is something under 10,000 people for the virginia coastal plain. that's a much smaller population. and when you couple that with using less drastic technology, and also using a lot more eco niches rather than really focusing in and destroying a few, you've got people who did live much more gently on the land. but less than 10,000 people, probably. to the english, it appeared empty.
and they often rode accordingly. which is how much they knew. i believe the gentleman down here in the -- who has got the mike? >> right here. >> go ahead. >> oh, sorry. i'll get to you next, sir. in back with the mike? and then bring it down here for him, please. >> i have heard that the indians used fire, and improved their hunting that way. and therefore, the woods looked quite different from the way they do now. could you comment on that? >> they did look different from what they do now, but not for that reason. there has been controversy -- i'm being polite -- about how extensive the fire hunting was. and nobody really knows. until somebody invents a time machine, we're not going to know. but we've got a certain amount of opening up of woods from fire hunting, a certain amount from hurricanes blowing trees down, a certain amount from lightning strikes, starting fires, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. but it may not have ever amounted to very much.
the major thing that would have struck you and me, if we got in a time machine and went back, was the fact that up away from the rivers we're going to be seeing mature disi had -- disiduous forest. with much, much less underbrush in it, because of that. and that is why john smith was able to write, you can ride a horse any way between the trees. by the way, i disagree with father andrew white in maryland. he says you can drive a coach in four. that's overdoing it. [ laughter ] >> so the major difference in the forests back then would have been the way the ground looked. rather than how many open spaces. but yes, it would still look very heavily forested to you and me, in any case, compared to what we're used to now. >> what can you tell us about the terrible scourge of coastal indians in both north and south
america on the east coast occurred from the onslaught of european diseases to which the indians had no resistance? >> i get this question every time. and it's several doctoral dissertations. i'm going to answer only for virginia, right? we have only one record, one, in 1617, of the indians here being hit by any kind of epidemic, and it appears to have been bloody flux, not small pox. i asked alfred crosby, who wrote the column ban connection and some of those others, what his opinion would be. was it going to be 90% as hank dobbins used to say? and he said no. the reason is, that the indian population here was not only small, less than 10,000 people, but they lived in small hamlets and at two different seasons of
2 the year, they dispersed from those hamlets. and nature could clean the place up. if you want a 90% loss of population, you've got to look to a city, and there were no cities. in aboriginal virginia. there may have been 90% loss of population in some inca cities. but not out in the countryside where the villages were and still are smaller. and not generally in north america. it's only when people get so concentrated, and the big epidemics of small pox you hear about were all in indian refuge communities, where they had been concentrated, and there were too many people who could not move around enough. so nothing like the mortality in north america. that people are often given to think. yell. go on, charlie, yell. >> i -- i -- it's interesting you're using soils maps to determine the ecological zones
in which native peoples were living. i did the same thing in my dissertation for tobacco. when i looked at the map you had, which is based on the smith map of the rappahannock and the location of tribes, want to hazard a guess as to why there are more tribes on the north shore of the rap panic than the south? >> i agree with morris who remarked on it back in the 1940s, and he said that -- probably political reasons for it. tribes on the rappahannock were under pressure to join the organization. they had done so, at least officially, but if they wanted to make independent decisions because they were getting contacted by more northerly peoples, they didn't want palitan to have such an easy time zapping them. and it didn't make sense for the rappahannock tribes, villages, to be on the north end of the northern neck and paltans on the south side.
they could send warriors and zap you right quick. if you're on the north side, you can see them coming. does that help? and i didn't point that out. somebody beat me to it. >> i was going to say taxation, but -- >> yeah. charlie. >> you mentioned milk weed and dog bane or indian hemp. yucca. yucca philamentosa, i believe it is native to eastern sandy areas. >> say it louder? >> the yucca philementosa. >> it does grow in sandy soil. >> you mentioned two -- >> they're the two i know best, and they have been found in archeological sites all over the eastern woodlands. yucca less so, as i understand it. an alternative is the inner bark of the red cedar. although i don't think it has as much tensile strength as the other. i haven't really tested this. if i ever genuinely retire,
which will be in the next millennium, i think, i want to try these all out. i want to make them. >> back row. >> thank you for being here. i happen to have come from the county that has the only two reservations in the state and i find it very interesting that it once again proves that no good deed goes unpunished. because the natives of what allowed us to survive in history always reflects those who write it. thank you. >> when i write a book about indian history, if i catch it from both the indians and 2 non-indians i figure i am being accurate.
what is your feeling over the controversy of whether or not native americans arrived 20,000 years ago and how long they lived in the coastal area. >> you are asking a cultural anthropologist that's not an archaeologist. yeah. i have no people arriving during interglaci interglacial. i committed myself on public radio a few years ago and they said where was the first thanksgiving, in massachusetts or virginia? i said neither one. it was in alaska 30,000 years ago. people is gonna walk where people sees food. the bearing straight then being